2008 Smart Fortwo: Almost as Good as Walking
April 23, 2009
I count myself among the staffers who think the Smart is stupid. Pulling into my parking spot last night next to a Lotus Elise however, got me thinking about how much these two cars have in common. And no, this isn't the first time we posted a picture of these two cars together.
Back when our local Smart dealer was still in business, you could've picked-up a well-used Elise for about the same price as a new Smart (if you were completely ignorant). Both squeak and creak like a wooden sailboat. Both cars appeal to a very small, niche market. Both have ridiculously small gas tanks, but get decent mileage. The Elise's suspension can generate neck-snapping G-forces -- the Smart can do that with its transmission. You can't wait to get out of the Smart, while larger drivers simply can't get out of an Elise. One is supremely fun to drive, while the other is...red.
Seriously, though, the Smart is pretty awful. In fact, I think it might be getting worse with time. The upshifts are so jerky that my girlfriend thought I was having a seizure. The doors and rear hatch need to be slammed shut with the effort equivalent to prop-starting a biplane. When you turn the key to start it, it sounds like there's an air raid siren in the trunk. If you park it too close to a state fair someone might mistake it for a porta-potty. At this point, I'd rather be run over by a Smart than own one.
Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor @ 16,061 miles